Articles for "Antarctica"

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Space | 23. January 2024 | posted by Dirk Heinen

Second TRIPLE-IceCraft expedition to the Antarctic: Between battling a snowstorm and loading a dishwasher – Part 2

Die Umgebung der Neumayer-Station III nach einem antarktischen Schneesturm
Credit: DLR/RWTH Aachen/Dirk Heinen
The surroundings of Neumayer Station III after an Antarctic snowstorm

Today's weather is unpleasant, with light snow drifts and wind speeds of up to 20 knots (37 kilometres per hour). And tomorrow is expected to be even worse. Before then, we plan to bring the TRIPLE-IceCraft melting probe to Neumayer Station III. To do this, we will remove the probe from the container and place it on a snow crawler that will transport it to the station. read more

Space | 11. December 2023 | posted by Dirk Heinen

Second TRIPLE-IceCraft expedition to Antarctica: Return to the eternal ice – Part 1

Blick auf das ewige Eis
Credit: DLR/RWTH Aachen/Dirk Heinen
First glimpse of the eternal ice

It's Sunday morning, 12 November 2023: The bags are packed, a quick covid test is done and the 2023-24 expedition to the 'eternal ice' is ready to begin. Our team had already travelled to Antarctica in the spring to test the TRIPLE-IceCraft meltdown probe near the Alfred Wegener Institute's (AWI) research station (AWI) Neumayer Station III. It is part of the TRIPLE project (Technologies for Rapid Ice Penetration and subglacial Lake Exploration) launched by the German Space Agency at DLR to develop an autonomous, robotic system for the contamination-free exploration of subglacial lakes and ultimately for the exploration of the oceans beneath the ice crust of Jupiter's moons Europa and Enceladus. The main goal of this new expedition is to further test the probe and melt even deeper, even reaching the ocean beneath the ice shelves. read more

Space | 30. March 2023 | posted by Dirk Heinen

TRIPLE-IceCraft Expedition to Antarctica – Drilling through the ice shelf - part 5

Credit: DLR/RWTH Aachen/Dirk Heinen
TRIPLE-IceCraft drilling through the ice

All of us on the team have been working towards this moment for the last few years: we will finally be able to operate our TRIPLE-IceCraft probe on the ice shelf and drill a deep hole there! The probe will now have to prove itself, and we are all very excited. After the successful four-metre-deep test drilling at Neumayer Station III a few days ago, we are optimistic and highly motivated. The transport of the melting probe to the drilling site with an 80-metre-thick ice shelf can start: at around 7:00 (local time), a colleague from the technical team prepares the snow crawler. The container containing the TRIPLE-IceCraft is released from the snow drift and driven forward. Meanwhile, we pack up the last things. In addition to our working container, we also have a living container and a transport sledge to be transported to the drilling site. read more

Space | 14. March 2023 | posted by Dirk Heinen

TRIPLE-IceCraft expedition to Antarctica – final system tests and completion of preparations for drilling – part 4

Credit: Simon Zierke
Successful test drilling – view into a four-metre-deep melt hole

Soon it will be time for the big test of our TRIPLE-IceCraft probe, which is to melt its way through the almost 100-metre-thick ice shelf north of Neumayer Station III. But before that, we still have to perform final system checks and make a first test borehole. read more

Space | 03. February 2023 | posted by Dirk Heinen

TRIPLE-IceCraft expedition to Antarctica – the long way south – part 1

Credit: DLR/RWTH Aachen/Dirk Heinen
View of the ice shelf edge

Some regions on Earth are as mysterious as distant celestial bodies – but equally explored. These include subglacial lakes in Antarctica. These lakes lie under a permanent layer of ice, often several kilometres thick, and sometimes form an ecosystem that has been closed off for about a million years. It is safe to assume that they contain microbial life that has adapted to these extreme environmental conditions. But to study microbial life, samples must be taken without contamination, so that no microorganisms are introduced from the surface. This is a particularly technical and methodological challenge. In 2018, the German Space Agency at DLR launched the Technologies for Rapid Ice Penetration and subglacial Lake Exploration (TRIPLE) project to develop an autonomous, robotic system for contamination-free exploration of these lakes and, prospectively, for exploration of the oceans beneath the ice crust of the icy moons Europa and Enceladus. Twenty-eight development teams from Germany are currently involved in the project. The TRIPLE system consists of an ice-melting probe, an autonomous underwater vehicle and an astrobiological laboratory where samples can be examined in situ. The TRIPLE-IceCraft meltdown probe is now being tested in Antarctica by a team from RWTH Aachen University and GSI GmbH from Aachen, who were responsible for designing it. At the Neumayer Station III operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), TRIPLE-IceCraft is to penetrate the Ekström Ice Shelf and plunge into the ocean below. TRIPLE-IceCraft was developed as a fully traceable melting probe for drilling down to several hundred metres. read more